Turtle Trails

I went down to the dock to take a swim but got distracted by the wildlife.  There was a green heron on the swim raft.  A green heron!  I’d never seen one up close before.  They are described in The Sibley Guide to Birds as the most “solitary, secretive” heron and yet this one stayed put even as I walked to the end of the dock to get a good look at him.  (I say “him” because he looked like a hunched-over vicar wearing a cape of dark feathers.)  I talked to him as he marched about, lifting his legs higher than necessary, as if he were wading.

“Hello!  Are you the one who’s been pooping on our swim raft?”  He did not deny it, preening his rufous chest feathers with his long, black beak.  “Well,” I told him, “I won’t take it personally.”

As I sat on the dock, I noticed our resident turtle swimming under the wooden slats.  The huge snapper settled his turkey-platter of a shell in the seaweed and became almost invisible.  Then I noticed a smaller turtle swimming nearby.  A relative of the ancient one under the dock?  The dinner-plate size turtle stuck her(?) head out of the water and watched me, so I talked pleasantly to her and wished her a safe winter in the mud at the bottom of the lake.

“Blessings to you, turtle,” I said and was surprised to hear a low growling noise from the turtle as she submerged and swam away.  Brown blobs followed after her, flowing right toward me, and I realized she was moving her bowels as she went.  An editorial comment?  I tried not to take it personally.  And I decided to wait till spring to go swimming in that Wisconsin lake again.

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